THE 2001 TEMPLETON PRIZE NOMINATION
Hay celebrates Peacocke as Pioneer
By David Hay Science and Theology News
September 1, 2001
Dr. Peacocke 's career has brought him to international eminence as the creator of a new understanding of the relationship between theology and science, medicine, and technology. In 1985-86, it led him to create a new religious order, the Society of Ordained Scientists, of which he is the first warden. The story of the unfolding of the vocation which has brought about an increase in our understanding of God in the contemporary world is told below.
For over 25 years, Dr. Peacocke followed an academic-scientific career in the Universities of Birmingham and Oxford in the field of the physical chemistry of biological macromolecules (particularly DNA) and was awarded a D.Sc. degree by Oxford University in 1962. He was a Fellow of St. Peter 's College, Oxford, from 1959-73 and an editor of Biopolymers, the Biochemical Journal and a series of monographs on physical biochemistry for Oxford University Press. His scientific publications include 126 papers and three books (inter alia, The Molecular Basis of Heredity, 1965), and his most recent scientific work is The Physical Chemistry of Biological Organization.
His principal interest for the last 25 years has been in the relation of science and theology and associated questions in the philosophy of science and theology. He was awarded a B.D. degree by the University of Birmingham in 1971 and a D.D. degree by the University of Oxford in 1982. In 1978, he gave the Bampton Lectures at Oxford, published as Creation and the World of Science. In 1984, he gave the Mendenhall Lectures at DePauw University, published as 'Intimations of Reality: Critical Realism in Science and Religion,' and in 1986, he published 'God and the New Biology.' His theological and philosophical publications consist of 53 articles and papers and nine books. His latest book in the field is Theology for a Scientific Age, for which he received a Templeton Foundation Prize in 1995 for 'an outstanding book on theology and natural sciences.'
He was ordained as a priest in the Church of England in 1971 and served on its Doctrine Commission, 1969-76. He was Dean of Clare College, Cambridge, 1973-84 and the founder-director of the Ian Ramsey Centre (for the study of issues in the relation of theology to science, medicine, and technology) at St. Cross College, Oxford, from 1985-1988, and in 1995, he resumed this post to oversee the application of a grant from the John Templeton Foundation for the organising of training workshops on science and religion in Oxford.
He has lectured extensively on science and theology in the United States where he has had inter alia, visiting professorships at the Chicago Centre for Religion and Science, the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences at Berkeley, and Tulane and Georgetown Universities, and also in other parts of the world, Japan in particular. In 1991, Georgetown University awarded him the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, and in 1993, he was made a member of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen 's Birthday Honours List.
While still a scientist at Oxford, he called together a group of scientists interested in the relation of their studies to religion in general and Christianity in particular. This led to the formation of the Science and Religion Forum, which has met annually in Great Britain since 1972. By personally convening in Cambridge in 1984 an international group of those interested in the interaction of science and theology, he was a prime mover in the process that led to the formation of the European Society for the Study of Science and Theology.
During the period 1985-86, in conversations with other priest-scientists in the Church of England, he gathered together a nucleus that decided to form a new dispersed order in the church for those who are, or have been, practicing scientists or technologists and who are priests or ministers in the church. He was its first warden. This order, the Society of Ordained Scientists (S.O.Sc.), now has about 70 members of five different Christian denominations in Britain and North America and has a devotional rule to which its members are committed as well as to serving the church by facilitating its interaction with science, medicine, and technology.
In the foundation of this religious order, Dr. Peacocke has drawn from the centuries- old tradition of Christianity a contemporary expression of its culture which is generating a new theology for a scientific age.
David Hay, Ph.D, is a member of the Centre for the Study of Human Relations at the University of Nottingham, England.
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